The Benthos Aspersum
The Benthos Aspersum or Pillow Snail is a species of snail living in the aphotic zone or more specifically, the baythypelagic zone of the ocean. They are called pillow snails due to their bodies looking fluffy like a pillow. Pillow snails range from one to four inches in length and they only weigh a few ounces. They are usually found on flat sandy surfaces far from any hydrothermic activity. They also stay away from trenches and other geologic structures. They have large white eyes that are able to see in the darkness of the aphotic zone. Their bodies are light blue and they are covered with fur-like bristles that aid them in feeding. They also have a very hard black shell that they grow on their backs. The black color of their shells help them not stand out and it gives them protection.
Feeding, Reproduction, and Respiration
The Pillow snail reproduces sexually. Males secrete a fluid that attracts females to mate. When a male and female meet the female lays hundreds of eggs in the sand then leaves. The male stays and fertilizes the eggs then he soon leaves. The eggs hatch in ten days and the hatchlings are on their own till adulthood. Pillow snails breathe through their skin using many very small openings spread across their bodies. They take in water, filter out the oxygen, then release the water back the same place it came. Pillow snails feed by using the fur-like bristles on their skin to to sift through the sand and pick up small organisms like zooplankton and small crustaceans.
Locomotion and Defense Strategies
The Pillow snail is considered to be benthos due to it living on the seafloor. It moves by using the bristles on its body as makeshift legs. Using many of these bristles the Pillow snail drags across the seafloor at a speed of 0.029 mph. The Pillow snail's shell is its main defense. The black shell helps it blend into the pitch black waters of the seafloor. The shell is also very hard and if attacked by predators the Pillow snail will retreat into its shell. The shell is hard enough to resist the assault of most predators.